Filled with color, lines, and more color, the art of Henri Matisse (1869-1954) resonates with his audience today, just as it did at the turn of the century. Matisse—abandoning a legal career—turned to art at age 21, inspired by a paint box given to him by his mother during his recuperation from an appendectomy. He studied with Gustave Moreau, the Symbolist painter, at the École des Beaux-Arts and gradually moved from still life painting in the tradition of Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin to a manner all his own. Matisse traveled in artistic circles and could name Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, André Derain, Raoul Dufy, and other groundbreaking modern painters as his friends and colleagues. A subset of these creative compatriots, notably Derain, Dufy, Albert Marquet, Charles Camoin, Maurice de Vlaminck, and Georges Braque, followed Matisse in his exploration of color as the medium for transmission of their messages: titled the “wild beasts” (fauves) by art critic Louis Vauxcelles, these artists prevailed during a short time period, as post-Impressionism waned and Cubism gestated, with their style, defined by use of pure hues and vivid—almost aggressive—colors.
Torpy JM. Nude in a Wood. JAMA. 2010;304(6):612. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.994